Folk Metaphysics * Charles Upton (2008)

What a wonderfull little book of the American Traditionalist Charles Upton! I thought it was time to read something from the Traditionalist corner and when browsing through the Amazon website, I ran into this Traditionalistic book about “mystical meanings in traditional folk songs & spirituals” and decided to try it. Upton proves to be a poet (student of a beat poet) and however Wikipedia lists him as a Sufi, I have the idea that he is very Christian. The author starts with a very nice introduction into his world of thought and this makes a nice introduction into Traditionalism. Also, the authors that I mostly read from that ‘school’ are much more formal and theoretical in their approaches, while Upton is very nicely ‘practical’ and personal, sometimes reminding a bit of Mircea Eliade. Upton does not write about Traditionalism, but he writes ‘Traditionalistically’. The book mentions a lot of contemporary songs and poems, some might go back to the older songs the he usually reconstructs before he gives his view on them. These views can be relatively short, or extremely lengthy, such as in the case of the Dilly Song in which Upton finds the 10 commandments that he delves into in (too) great depth. Upton has a Traditionalistic view upon folklore and the prechristian religion that some of it goes back to. On the one hand, he says that remnants remain, but on the other hand the tradition is broken and the real work can only be done through orthodox religions. In his introduction to ‘three ballads of fall and redemption’ he writes “a word on, and to, the neo-pagans”, who “certainly include the Nordic romantics of the “Goth” culture – the people who, when they think of Hyperborea, do not see the eternal spring of the Earthly Paradise, but sorcerers blasting people with magic wands and warriors cleaving skulls with battle-axes – as well as softer Celtic romanticism which has produced River Dance and Celtic Women and a lot of blurry, elvish elevator music.” I guess that goes for a large part! “I maintain that some of the Neo-Pagans seem to have missed several important points, both about the spiritual life in general and about what Paganism originally was”. Agreed!
Folk Metaphysics is filled with thought-provoking and insightfull explanations of old and contemporary poetry and song. I do not always agree with the author and his ideas about for example heathenry, but the book is a very nice read. Practical Traditionalism so to say.
1998 Sophia Perennis, isbn 9781597310772
Some quotes from this book can be found here

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